The Air Force has asked the government to urgently purchase fresh ammunition for its fighters amid continuing tensions after Pakistan brought all its F16s upfront on the Indian border as cross-border tensions rise between the regional rivals.
As combat air patrol missions continue near the Pakistani border, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has asked the defense ministry to procure additional air-to-air missiles for its fighter jets on urgent basis.
A media report published by the Indian English daily Economic Times said that the fast track purchase has been sought because replenishment of missiles and other ammunition had been deemed necessary under the current scenario as Indian fighter jets have had to undertake additional sorties in fully-loaded mode.
In order to maintain battle readiness and match Pakistan’s air fleet expansion on its doorstep, the IAF is seeking to acquire additional air-to-air missiles, India’s Economic Times has learned.
“These missiles have a certain life, which is counted in terms of the age of the system in years. But when fighter jets are operationally deployed, the life of the missile depends on the number of sorties being undertaken. So we need fresh replenishments”, the media report read citing top government sources.
India has in place its frontline fighter jets, including the Sukhoi Su-30MKIs and Mirage 2000s, for quick reaction in case, hostilities escalate. The IAF has also increased fighter strength at its air bases in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The F-16s have been placed all across Pakistani airbases and are still trained at us. They are continuing to undertake night flights and have their air defence network on alert”, the newspaper report read citing its sources.
India and Pakistan are engaged in an ongoing military confrontation in the disputed Kashmir region and its neighboring provinces; the heightened tensions stem from a suicide car bombing that happened on 14 February 2019.
In the bombing, a militant from Jammu and Kashmir killed 40 Indian Central Reserve Police Force members in Pulwama.
The militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility, while Pakistan’s government condemned the attack and denied any involvement.
Reacting to the suicide attack, the Indian Air Force on 26 February violated the Line of Control (LOC) to conduct what it called “preemptive” aerial strikes that targeted a terrorist training camp and killed several militants.
On the latter day, Pakistan conducted airstrikes in Indian-administered Kashmir which caused no casualties or damage.
Also on 27 February, Pakistan claimed that it had shot down two Indian jets over Pakistani airspace. Pakistan captured one Indian pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, and he was subsequently released on 1 March as a peace gestue